I love being an elder! Along with being a husband and father, it’s a calling tha...
How God found me
For most of my life, I believed the lie that I did not need God. Finally, after struggling with a conflict that I couldn’t fix, a good friend suggested that my problem was too big for me to handle, and that I should turn it over to the Lord. In my desperate condition, I was willing to try anything, even a God that I did not believe in. And I learned, like so many other adult converts, that God is real, and in His grace, He loved and cared for those, like me, who had rejected Him for years.
Jesus ministered to me through the love and service of many people, and I quickly discovered my greatest desire was to love and serve in response.
While serving as a church elder, I experienced God’s call to go into full-time ministry. I left my career as a lawyer and went to seminary, never dreaming I would become a pastor of a small church in a remote part of Alaska.
I have served at this small church, Haines Presbyterian Church of Haines, Alaska for 11 years. My wife Jacque and I love this congregation of 61 members and we love life in this small town, even though it can feel very isolated in the winter. In the summer, we watch the daily parade of cruise ships from our living room as they take tourists to Skagway and we get “upset” when there is a traffic jam of three cars at the four-way stop sign in our town. On a blue sky day, this is one of the most beautiful places on earth; imagine the snow covered Alps meeting the sea and you will have a picture of Haines. We see the majesty of God in the beautiful scenery, the abundant wildlife, and the northern lights (Psalm 19:1.)
I certainly enjoy the wonder of God’s creation in this place, but my greatest joy remains in loving and serving God’s people. It’s amazing to watch as Jesus gets ahold of someone and changes their life. I have been blessed to witness this in both young and old, and it’s a wonderful privilege to play a small part in that transformation. I am also very grateful for the new flexibility in ECO’s polity, as it allows our session and our presbytery to try new ways to spread the gospel.
Looking forward to what’s ahead
The Presbytery of the Northwest and Alaska includes churches located in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. Although it only covers three states, the distances between churches can be huge! As I mentioned, I serve a church in the small town of Haines, AK, and the next closest ECO church is in Skagway, 14 miles away by boat, but 350 miles away by car! Our presbytery has a church-planting agreement with a group in Anchorage, but Anchorage is 750 miles away. I can drive from Haines to our sister churches in the Seattle area, but that is over 1,700 miles away, which to put the distance in perspective, it’s like driving from New York to Denver. The distances among our churches may cause some difficulties, but we are working through these obstacles as our presbytery serves its churches.
Programs and procedures that may be necessary in a large urban church may not fit well, or even work, in our small, rural setting. And our polity allows our session to do whatever is necessary or best for our situation without jumping through hoops or ignoring rules that don’t have any real application for us. The connections we have made through accountability groups with other pastors and sessions helps us try new things, and not make too many mistakes as we follow God’s leading. It’s an exciting time as this new denomination grows, and I am blessed to be a part of it.
Ron Horn and his wife, Jacque, have been married for 43 years. They raised their two children in Albuquerque, NM where Ron practiced law for 23 years before he was called into full-time ministry. Both their children are married and they have three grand-children. Ron is an avid photographer and his website contains images of Alaska.